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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 2, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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the number, if you can believe it, is astonishing. we've got that in the "hardball" sideshow tonight. let's talk about the christmas day bomber with justice department correspondent pete williams. he has the information about the kind of intelligence the suspect is giving officials. let's go right now, abdulmutallab, what's he talking about right now? do we know, peter? >> we know that he's talking more about the details of al qaeda in yemen, the people who helped him with the attack and the organization of al qaeda there. chris, this is a big development. because as you know, the initial stage of questioning with him on christmas day was that the fbi questioned him for 50 minutes after he was arrested, but before he went into surgery for burns on his legs. after that surgery, later on christmas, the fbi tried to go back and resume the conversation, and he wanted none of it. he would say nothing more. so the fbi ultimately read him his miranda warning, and informing him of the right to
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remain silent. and our understanding had been that he had in fact been silent. that he hadn't given the fbi any new information since then. well, now we know that is not the case. that in fact, for several days he has been talking to the fbi, we're told by several officials in the government, giving what they consider to be very valuable and still current information about the nature of al qaeda in iraq, information these officials say that the united states is aggressively chasing down. so i guess you could say, chris, this is an interesting development for a couple of reasons. number one, because of its intelligence value. the government still considers it's good, and secondly because of the debate here in washington about whether he's being handled properly. there have been many people in both parties, frankly, mostly republicans though, that say the government missed an opportunity, that he never should have been classified as a criminal defendant but should have been made an enemy combatant so he could be exploited for intelligence reasons by intelligence officials. and they feel they would have
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gotten more out of him that way. but what the administration says tonight is, he is now talking. now, what we don't know is why he's doing this. but i think it's fair to assume that one very strong possibility is that he's preparing to make some sort of a deal with the government in which he would plead guilty, and would escape the death penalty. >> so much information. what a story that is. amazing development. thank you so much, pete williams, covering justice for nbc news. right now, let's go to president obama who held a town meeting up in nashua, new hampshire today. "time" magazine's mark halperin, the co-author of the huge book "game change." it's about the last election. "newsweek's" howard feinman is an nbc political analyst. let's take a look at the president up there in new hampshire. >> the message you all sent when you elected me, the message that was sent this past month is whether you're democrat, republican, independent, you're out of patience. you're out of patience with this kind of business, as usual.
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you want us to start worrying less about our jobs and more about your jobs. you want us -- you want us to worry less about our election and more about solving your problems. >> something's working. the gallup poll shows the president's job approval has been heading upward the last few days. at the very right end of that, you see it going up to 51%. after all those months of coming down, that's the black chart coming down. the black line coming down. the red one is his disapproval. disapproval ticking downward after all these months, howard, it's finally turning around. maybe tactics are enough. you don't need strategy. >> going over my notes from talking to white house people before and after the massachusetts race, i think they decided after massachusetts, they were going to go after the republicans. first of all, obama's good at it. he was never a courtroom lawyer, but he looks good going after them the way he did in the
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lion's den last friday, looked good doing this. second, the democrats on the hill are not popular. get them out of the way. attack the republicans who are not popular. a two-fer for him. get harry reid and nancy pelosi off the stage and make it a one-on-one race between him and congressional republicans. that's what he's trying to do. >> do you think it is possible he can create a phantom bad guy? somebody out there to vote besides him. >> he's got to put the republicans on the defensive. he tried very hard to do that. great scheduling and staging going to the house republicans, to new hampshire who has two races up. a nat race a senate race. a state that the politics are going to be a lot of focus and create energy. the only concern i have for him in terms of success and strategy, the a.p. said the president today, with one hand, he reached out to the republicans, looking for the sentence here, but the other hand he slapped them. the problem i think he has is, this is what they tried earlier in the administration when he was popular. destroy the republican party, make them so weak they must
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surrender. they're not going to surrender. i think for his point of view, success is here involved in some bipartisan compromise. this is not the way to get it. this will make the republicans dig in. >> he tried a couple days ago to cut a deal. he got behind this idea of a commission to deal with long-term dealt. deal with the entitlements. deal wall the issues republicans care more about than democrats do. at the last minute, seven of the republicans dropped away. here he is making them pay for their legislative gamesmanship. here's the president taking them on, talking about the deficit commission that the senate shot down last week. let's listen. >> last week the senate blocked a law that i had created to support a bipartisan fiscal commission that would come up with a set of recommendations for cutting our deficits in the long term. this law failed by seven votes. when seven republicans who had co-sponsored the bill. had co-sponsored the idea.
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suddenly walked away from their own proposal after i endorsed it. so they make a proposal, sign onto the bill. i say great, good idea. i turn around, they're gone. what happened? >> you know, i talked to somebody yesterday, who really knows about politics, and he said if he had acted like this, the democratic party, rather, acted like this, they wouldn't have lost massachusetts. if they had smoked out scott brown, his voting record as a state senator, if they had made the focus not on his car or good looks or the fact he hasn't done much but to what he has done as a politician. his long voting record on republican issues, they could have beaten the guy. >> clearly they decided that. because before massachusetts, the president was still talking the inside game, making deals. afterwards, clearly different. and i think they're going to take the gamble that mark is talking about. this strategy now is really more like the fall of a campaign year. he's doing this awfully early. but i think they felt they had no choice, because mitch
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mcconnell and john boehner just not going to cut any deals. so he's got to put the spotlight on them. >> he's the hot shooter. i use the basketball analogy. 's but he can't shoot all the baskets. he needs some people around him. he's got to sharpen up his cabinet. we had the o & b director on, he's not a politician. napolitano doesn't seem like much of a politician on issues she's responsible for. he needs sharp team members. and i don't know who they are. geithner's not a pal. biden is. he needs people out there shooting with him and working with him and i don't see it. >> i don't think he needs a commander in chief on the economy. there has to be somebody like norman schwarzkopf every day on tv. >> a politician. >> a politician, with some incentive about politics and credibility with wall street and main street. howard's right, this is the way he would be acting if he were simply trying to win the midterms. i still don't understand how this helps his legislative agenda this year. he's right on the merits. the republicans outrageously walked away from something they sponsored.
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that's not going to make them come to the table. >> he needs a cabinet packed with guys like, let's go for the list here. eddie rendell of pennsylvania. schumer. guys who are verbal, aggressive, know how to talk, can talk to people who are middle of the road voters from the suburbs, say here's the problems we face. we inherited. it ain't perfect but it's better than what those jokers are doing. >> also, where's joe biden? don't forget, this middle class task force that they put together, where is that? where is -- joe biden was supposed to be somebody who could do some of what mark's talking about. but they're not giving joe biden any real online responsibilities. he's in the room, but not making any decisions. you can't put larry summers out there. you're right. you can't put geithner out there. >> where are the pols in this administration besides the president and vice president? >> i love joe biden, but it's a plan predicated on putting him out regularly to talk?
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has a lot of risk. >> name bush's three treasury secretaries. you got to have somebody in that job at a time like this who can speak like they're in a war for jobs for america. >> by default. >> ed rendell would be great. >> by default, the president is doing it right now. i think he's got to worry about that a little bit. the standard conservative criticism is he's too self-involved, et cetera. i only take that half-way. he's very good at what he does. and he's showing how good he is in this situation. but he can't do it all on his own. >> here's the president hitting wall street today. let's listen. >> i'm announcing a proposal to take $30 billion of the money that was repaid by wall street banks, now that they're back on their feet, take that $30 billion and use it to create a new small business lending fund that will provide capital for community banks on main street. you combine it with my proposal back in december to continue
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waiving fees and increasing guarantees for sba-backed loans. all this will help small banks do even more of what our economy needs, and that's to ensure that small businesses are once again the engine of job growth in america. i'm convinced we can make that happen. >> it's a very small percentage of our gdp, that $30 billion, by the way. >> as you're pointing out, the law has to be -- >> he has to change the law. >> if i'm obama and thinking the way i think axelrod and company are thinking, they're saying, do it. make the republicans vote for it. >> the law says use the money to bring down the debt or pay back the t.a.r.p. money. >> they said we're going to take some of this money in the cash drawer and give it to small businesses, small banks. mark right, they're going to keep voting against everything. i think what obama and axelrod and rahm are thinking of, let's design a series of votes that they don't dare say no to. >> in the military, they have the guy in the front of the unit in the jungle and has to take the shots, the second lieutenant
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often. who gets the bullet. we have a president of the united states, just forget the warfare reference, he's the leader of the democratic party, he's out front, he's taking it, the democratic congress, the whole shebang. he's out there fighting it out like he's the candidate. isn't that dangerous? >> nancy pelosi has a 7% approval rating. harry reid has a 3%. strongly positive rating in the nbc poll. >> would you do that again, howard? what did you do just do? hand gesture. >> 7% strongly positive -- >> i love the quotations. >> 3% strongly positive for harry reid. >> reid is going to have to worry about saving himself anyway. the president has to do it. >> chris dodd's retiring. >> there's nobody. look, in the media landscape in which we live, he can still dominate when he wants to. when they schedule him this smartly, they win the day. >> he still needs a balanced offense, four or five people out
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there sowing it. i'm sure schumer's not one of them, but they need him. president obama vowed to end don't ask, don't tell. top pentagon officials were on capitol hill to make the case to end the policy. how would the pentagon go about doing it? how they make the transition. how big a political fight would the president face in doing it. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. when you take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions you help our community get what it needs for the next, oh, 10 years. we can't move forward until you mail it back. 2010 census that keep you cool and dry have now inspired stayfree® to create a whole new level of comfort
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welcome back to "hardball." the pentagon's top two defense officials testified on capitol hill today in support of president obama's plan to repeal the "don't ask don't tell" policy. here's what the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral michael mullen, told the senate armed services committee today. >> it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. no matter how i look at this issue, i cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. for me personally, it comes down to integrity. theirs as individuals, and ours as an institution. >> republicans were resistant to the idea of overturning the policy of "don't ask don't tell." how much of a political fight does president obama have on his
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hands right now? >> i was in the infantry in south korea, seventh infantry division. i was a sharpshooter. >> as a gay man, what was it like? you were not in the open obviously. what was your experience in that regard? what did you learn in terms of this issue of whether gay people should be allowed to serve openly? >> by and large, even in the '60s, chris, i found that gays and lesbians, most were serving in silence then. it was not a big deal. but all gays and lesbians want to serve openly. they want to be honest about their service to their country. and as admiral mullen said today, it comes down to integrity. and every service member counts, gay or straight. >> peter, what is the argument against in terms of actual performance in the barracks, in
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life, in the military? what gets in the way of military discipline in a crack unit? your view. performing as soldiers. >> military life is unlike civilian life. soldiers are put in positions of forced intimacy all the time. they shower together, sleep together in the barracks. and it's simply unfair to put soldiers in a position of forced cohabitation with those who may be viewing them as a sexual object. that is a formula guaranteed to lead to greater sexual tensions, sexual harassment and even sexual assault. >> my dad was in the military, my brother was in the military. anybody who has ever been in the military i know says there are gay people in the military. they're known to be gay. you say we will have a gay people forced with intimacy with straight people? isn't that the case now 1234 are you saying there are no gay people in the barracks or on submarines or any other intimate setting as you put it?
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>> to the extent it is the case now -- >> well, it is true, isn't it? first of all, let's agree on this. are you questioning whether there are not sizeable numbers of americans who have gay orientation, who are gay men and women who are serving in the military? do you deny that? significant numbers of them right now? >> i don't know how sizeable or significant the numbers are. >> you don't? >> i agree there are some. >> i thought you were an expert in this field. >> well, you don't know -- >> i thought we were talking about an area you're talking about? you don't know about what you're talking about? >> there are no polls how many people are gay in the military. >> i'm not asking you for a percentage. do you deny we in the history of our country have had an experience of gay men and women serving in the military, a significant experience? it's not new to us. you acknowledge that. >> there are people who have experienced homosexual attractions who have served in the military. and do continue to serve in the military. but they are restrained in their behavior by the current policy. if we had a policy where the -- where people were considered
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bigoted if they were opposed to same-sex conduct, then there would be much greater danger of misconduct on the part of the homosexuals. and much greater likelihood that people who are objecting to that would simply choose not to serve at all. >> there's no data, there's no evidence to support the assertion that was just made by this gentleman. >> well, there is 58% of currently serving members in the question by the "military times" would not support this. >> what this gentleman is suggesting, and putting out on the table, is insulting to all service members, gay and straight. it's about professionalism. gay soldiers and sailors are professionals. as are the straight counterparts. at the end of the day, it's about professionalism. it's about getting the mission done. and it's not about your sexual preference, or orientation. >> that's exactly the point i'm trying to make. the military should not be used
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as an avenue for social re-engineering. the purpose of the military is to fight and win wars. and we need -- >> you go ahead. >> now, come on. the purpose of the military is to defend this country. we need every service member who is qualified to be on active duty today, to be defending this country. their sexual orientation is not a factor. it's about the mission. it's about professionalism. and as admiral mullen said today, it's about integrity. no one should have to lie to fight and die for this country. >> let me try one more time. peter, i accept your right to make this case. this is an american debate which is very much alive so i'm not taking sides exactly in this debate, although i have a position. let me ask you this. what should a young woman or man, say 22 years old, out of college, officer material, they want to serve their country. but they're gay. what should they do? they want to serve their country. they're patriotic.
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what should they do? >> they should serve it in some civilian capacity and not join the military. >> why not? >> because the presence of homosexuals in the military is incompatible with good morale, discipline and unit cohesion. that's what congress found in 1993 and that's what the law states. >> again, there is no data, there is no evidence, there is no study whatsoever that you can point to to support that outrageous statement. and what i would also suggest to you is that 79% of americans today support open service. they support gays and lesbians, being able to serve their country openly. indeed, i would say to you that the latest gallup polling shows that 61% of weekly churchgoers support gays and lesbians being able to serve openly. indeed, 58% of conservatives support repeal of don't ask,
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don't tell. >> what's your response, sir? >> well, don't ask, tonight tell is the clinton compromise policy which is actually incompatible with the law that was passed by congress. there's almost universal misunderstanding about that. i'd like to see us do away with this don't ask, don't tell, and simply enforce the law that was passed by congress. >> what i hear you saying is that you believe that gays and lesbians should not serve their country in the uniform whatsoever. >> that's absolutely right. >> not only are you opposed to repealing don't ask, don't tell, you would prohibit all gays and lesbians from serving their country? >> that's exactly right. and that would -- >> right now we're fighting two wars and we need every qualified trooper to be out there. >> the percentage of people, the number who had refused to serve in the military if they're forced to serve with open homosexuals would dwarf the number of homosexuals who would actually volunteer.
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>> there's no basis in fact for that assess. >> there is a "military times" poll showing 10% of those currently serving military would not reenlist. >> that's a poll of the readers of "the military times." >> let him finish up here. let me ask you, peter, do you think people choose to be gay? >> people do not choose to have same-sex attractions, but they do choose to engage in homosexual conduct, which is incidentally against the law in the military. it violates the uniform code of justice. it does not make sense to actively recruit people who are going to violate the uniform code of justice. >> do you think we should outlaw gay behavior? i'm just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior? >> i think the supreme court decision which overturned sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided. i think there would be criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior. >> so we should outlaw gay behavior? >> yes.
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>> thank you very much. we know your position. it's a clear one. i've known this fellow for 30 years. amazing new numbers. from a poll of republicans. how many of them have awful things to say about president obama. that he's a racist, foreigner, that he should be impeached. these people have strong views. the "sideshow's" coming next. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.av food, i was irregular, so my friend recommended the activia challenge. and it worked. i don't know what i like better-- how it makes me feel... or the great taste. ♪ activia! hi, i just switched jobs, and i want to roll over my old 401(k) into a fidelity ira. man: okay, no problem. it's easy to get started. i can help you with the paperwork. um... this green line just appeared on my floor. that's guidance from fidelity. it's the route to your financial goals. could you hold on a second? whatever your destination, fidelity has the people, guidance and investments to help you find your way.
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back to "hardball." time for the "sideshow." first congresswoman, michelle bachman is on the offensive. yesterday in a minnesota town hall, she rolled out a new attack line against health care. she predicts the government of the united states could use health care to limit free speech, to punish those who disagree with the government. here's the congresswoman with an
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anecdote she says she got from a friend living overseas. >> this is something people don't know. in japan, people have stopped voicing their opinion on health care. there's things that are wrong with japanese health care, but people started voicing, well, why is that? he said, that's because they know that they would get on a list and they wouldn't get health care. they wouldn't get in. they wouldn't get seen. so people are afraid. they're afraid to speak back to government. they're afraid to say anything. is that what we want for our future? and we're going to give up. we're not going to quit fighting. because government takeover of health care is the crown jewel of socialism. >> the government's going to get you like they do in japan. wait until japan hears this charge. michelle bachman is going for the title, saying the media, us, she wants to investigate democratic members of the u.s. congress for anti-american attitudes. but she's the one who wants to sick the thought police on the people.
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not the japanese government or this government. it reminds me of what hughey long once said, if fascism will ever come to america, it will be called anti-fascism. next, a wild new poll conducted by research 2000, sponsored by the progressive blog daily coast. 58% of republicans polled say no, or not sure when asked in president obama was born in the u.s. whoa. 79% say yes or no. or not sure, rather, to the question whether he's a socialist. 64%, about two-thirds, say yes or not sure on if the president's a racist who hates white people. and 57% of republicans say yes, or not sure, on whether he wants the terrorists to win. here's the wildest number of them all. how many republicans in this poll think president obama should be impeached? 68% said yes or not sure to the question of whether barack obama should be impeached. now, i guess if you think the guy's an illegal immigrant, you figure he's got to be impeached.
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68% of republicans say either yes or not sure on impeachment of this president. the academy award nominees are out. one of the nominated movies say about the big issues facing americans today? this is going to be fun. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.i also dispenses wisdom... to help you stay well. so if you're on medicare part d, schedule a free one-on-one plan review session... with your walgreens pharmacist. they'll review all your medications... no matter where they're from... and help you get the most from your plan. so you can relax and enjoy all your benefits. walgreens. there's a way to stay well. but it takes less than 15 seconds to tell you this. drivers who switched from geico to allstate... saved an average of $473 a year. time to switch to allstate. ♪ [ ellen ] i'm beautiful.
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here's what's happening. in a surprising reversal, iran says it is now willing to send its uranium out of the country for enrichment. the u.n. has been pressuring the iranian government to agree to the proposal for months. iran's government says it would be willing to exchange for iranians serving time in u.s.
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prisons. despite having been read his miranda rights shortly after his arrest, the suspect is providing valuable information. a british medical journal is retracting a study that first suggested a link between childhood vaccines and autism. back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." when we go to the movies, we go for entertainment obviously, but we also don't mind that the movie connects with us on a personal level, that it's relevant to the world we live in. this year's nominations that came out this morning are a
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great sampling of what's on our minds and in our hearts in 2010. "up in the air" is about a guy going around the country and firing people. it is about the humiliation of it all, especially among middle-aged people who get the sack. "the hurt locker" about the war in iraq about ieds. where your next step can blow you to kingdom come. what a war. and race relations took place in movies like "the blind side" and "precious" about poverty and despire. and "avatar" is about the exploitation of one race over another. some recognize this movie as the exploitation of whites over north american indians back 300 years ago. let's turn to our film experts, "vanity fair's" michael wolf and paul farley, a "washington post" critic. it seems this year the first movie we talked about, "up in the air" is so much about right now. the cold separation of labor from humanity. corporations are cold in their hiring and firing.
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that you're just a number. in fact, you outsource firing. you bring in some cold-hearted guy to fire you. michael? >> yeah. i missed the last part, chris. you cut out. but completely, it's a movie that you sit there with your mouth wide open. and you think two things. you think, geez, i'm glad i'm not in an airport and i'm glad i'm not being fired by a guy who's always in an airport. >> paul, your thoughts about this selection? this movie's in the top ranks of movies that might win best picture. it's so today. >> it's totally today. in fact, it benefited enormously by its timing. it was delayed somewhat, finally came out in the teeth of the recession. and it could not have been more appropriate to the period in which it's appearing. it's exactly as you say, it's the cold-heartedness of corporations. who doesn't feel that these days. >> let's take a look at a movie that's about a different kind of war. not a john wayne war.
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here's one about a war about ieds, about bobby traps, about ieds, these explosives that could go off at any moment, kill you, ruin your life. and this guy has the job of defusing them. this incredibly nervy guy played by jeremy renner. here it is. "the hurt locker." >> 25. >> 25 meters. roger that. >> 2:00. dude has a phone! >> he's running. come on, guys, talk to me. >> drop the bomb! drop the [ bleep ] bomb! >> i can't get a shot. >> michael wolf, it wasn't exactly a movie. it's something else. it's catherine bigelow's incredible look of what it's like walking every day of your
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life when every step could blow you to smithereens. >> it goes on and on, this movie. you watch it and think, i can't -- you know, can this, will this ever end. please let it end. but you're actually riveted to it and hoping it will go on and on. it's really quite something. >> paul, a different kind of war. it's a different kind of galantry it calls for. not being a better shot than the other guy. almost being a sitting duck in many ways when you get in a car and drive somewhere, and you walk down the street -- we're watching some of the scenes of this bombs and constantly being set everywhere. >> the disturbing thing about the movie, too, is jeremy renner's character is actually sort of crazy. he's not just heroic. he goes beyond heroic and almost into sort of insanity in his bravery. it's quite something to watch. >> yeah. here's another movie. there's a lot of the movies this year i find a racial -- sometimes a positive view.
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certainly in some days with a look at repression with "avatar," about the colonizing or resourcing of another planet, and killing anybody in our way. like white people did when they first got to north america. here's one that's heart warming. i really like this movie. i know it was controversial. this is sandra bullock in a part of her lifetime. here is sandra bullock as the white woman who brings in this young kid from desperate circumstances and lets him grow up in a very positive way. >> does michael get a family discount at taco bell? because if he does, sean's going to lose a few stores. >> he's a good kid. >> i say you make it official and just adopt him. >> he's going to be 18 in a few months. it doesn't really make much sense to legally adopt. >> is this some sort of white guilt thing? >> what will your daddy say? >> before or after he turns over in his grave? daddy's been gone five years,
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elaine. make matters worse, you were at the funeral. remember? you wore chanel and that awful black hat. look, here's the deal. i don't need y'all to approve my choices. all right? but i do ask that you respect them. >> amazing scene, michael. i don't know what you thought of that movie. i loved it. your thoughts? >> you know, absolutely. and i think that there's a larger point here that this is a great time to be a moviemaker. there aren't all that many times when you can swing at subjects like this. and so this particular moment in time, when everybody -- i mean, there's this enormous allowance of everybody saying, it's there, it's a problem, we all feel it. gives you as a moviemaker an incredible opportunity. >> you know what struck me about.
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the "blind side," which is the same thing that struck me about "avatar." it's only through white action that the people in "avatar" can solve the problem. and the only way this kid in "the blind side" to have a life is through white action. >> it's still hollywood. >> it is. but it's the dynamic in both shows. >> i know sandra bullock is looking too good. that's the argument. but i think that scene when she took on her peer group, this upper middle-class peer group and basically shoved it back at them, said i don't care about your value system, i'm not here to appeal to what my daddy thought. i'm trying to make these points a lot of nights around here. if we sat around and tried to judge this country the way our parents judged it, we wouldn't get anywhere. you've got to move forward. >> the black character is basically a prop to make the white people feel better about themselves. that's been the major criticism. it's also the magic negro. in other words, the idea that a
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black character will emerge to provide wisdom for the white people involved in the movie. >> at the same time, the really interesting thing is these movies are incredibly successful. at this point in time. and i don't think that would have been the case as recently as a couple of years ago. >> i actually disagree. that character goes back a long time in movie history. this not something new. the green mile came out ten years ago. it was the same kind of portrayal. >> you know what, when you see the movie, you have your own reaction. i accept all those criticisms. sociologically, paul, i agree with you, but i liked the movie a lot. maybe with sandra bullock. i agree with your points. but i loved the movie. sometimes that happens. michael and paul, thank you for joining us. it is going to be a great oscar night. primary day in illinois tonight. voters there are choosing candidates for the senate and governor's seat. of course, barack obama's home state. what will the choices say about what to expect in november's midterms. i think we'll start seeing a
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trend. if the republicans unite today, there's trouble for the democrats. this is "hardball" only on msnbc. national car rental knows i'm picky.
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enjoy it with mousse temptations. three decadent flavors. 60 calories. it's me o'clock. time for jell-o. we're back. the 2010 election cycle officially kicks off today. with a big primary in illinois, where voters are deciding the nominees for u.s. senate and governor of that state, jobs that used to belong to barack obama and rod blagojevich. are they as angry in illinois as they were in massachusetts a few week back? what does the president have
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riding on today's vote. lynn sweet, washington bureau chief of the chica"chicago sun " and john heilemann is the best-selling author of "game change," also a reporter for new york magazine. lynn sweet on the ground, lynn, this race, the -- what skin does the president have in this race, in the sense -- well, let me ask the question, what skin does he have in the game. >> he has a lot of skin, illinois is going to be used as a big fund-raising appeal for the national republicans starting tomorrow morning. we are the first in the primary state. it's his state, and it's his seat. he has a lot of skin in the game, also, have you a lot of chicagoans in the white house, who are supposed to know a thing or two about winning illinois elections. as we start out here, the democrats are not -- are not the favorite to win in november. >> let's take a look at the anti-incumbent thing, we have an incumbent governor who went in -- appointsed to take over
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for blagojevich. you have the president's own senate seat there, is the party going to suffer? the democratic party going to suffer? is pat quinn, the governor going to be punished for being an incumbent? >> it's quite possible. it's interesting, you know, there's any incumbent in the country -- you look at illinois, before the days of bill clinton. now it's up for grabs this is a big thing if illinois ends up drifting back to the purple or red category. >> if they pick up the paper and look on the blogs, they say that kirk the republican has won a big victory for the senate nomination, looks like they're united for the fall? >> that bad news -- >> well, republicans, that news is out already, the illinois republicans put aside this
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instance, the big divide between conservative and moderate. they didn't have the fight, they united around mark kirk who has run a rose garden campaign, he never campaigned publicly here in order not to give his rivals any ammunition, so it -- the democrats are the ones in disarray starting tomorrow, it's the republicans that are unity, the governor of mississippi is supposed to be here for a unity breakfast tomorrow, democrats don't have anything planned. >> what about the seat that the president held at various holds. he got that appointment by blagojevich. there he is right now, we got to know him on this show. that seat, the president's seat, where is that likely to go? does cheryle jackson have a chance? >> i wouldn't call it close, there's some other big. there's a potential of
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african-american turnout, she's the own ol female in the race. the state treasurer has been in the lead for most of the campaign, the race tightened up in these last few days, a lot of negative campaigning going on, mainly by david hoffman who is the former city hall inspector general, who had enough money to go on tv. the negative ads were continuing up through this afternoon in both the governor and senate races on both sides. >> hang on there. >> very good for people out there. >> hang on there. we're going to go back and talk about the president as a candidate again. he's out there acting like a candidate again. i wonder what it's all about, we're going to find out on msnbc. best 3g phones. carl passes the time searching for apps on his samsung moment with google. candice mixes business with pleasure on the newest blackberry curve, america's favorite smartphone, now even smarter. and rose is getting updated on her sleek and slim palm pixi. once again, bringing you the nation's best lineup of phones
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we're back with lynn sweet from the "chicago sun times" here's more from president obama up in new hampshire today. >> we have two parties in this country, that's a good thing. it means we have heated it debates and vigorous disagreements, i was pleased when the house republican caucus
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graciously invited me to attend their retreat last week. we had a good time for more than an hour. for more than an hour we had a frank exchange about the issues facing our country. and we aired some of our grievances, shared some ideas. there were plenty of things on which we didn't agree, but there were also some things on which we did. and even more things that we should agree on if we could just focus on solving problems, instead of scoring political points. >> lynn sweet you follow politics closely. what is the president's game? what's he up to getting out there like a candidate? >> well, he needs to rally his troops and change the narrative, which has always been a big problem with him in the last few weeks. he has to get ahead of what i think is this stall that he's in right now, chris. >> is that it, to get away from looking at the economic numbers, looking at the failure of health
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care, looking at harry reid and the rest of the democratic leadership that doesn't seem to be helping him right now. >> i think those are all things. one thing they have to do is start winning the inside game again. they were two mired, they're getting out of washington. number two, they have to make the republicans pay for their intransins. >> how do they make them pay? he's speaking to a guy that's sitting back there and pompously laughing at him. how do you make them pay for what they're doing? >> the republicans who signed on to the bipartisan commission to deal with the deficit issue, how those people who signed on, as soon as obama endorsed it, they all bailed out? he's going to call them on their hypocrisy. he should haul republicans up to the white house, sit down and
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say, what do we agree on, what do you want to -- on health care. >> they wouldn't do that. >> go ahead. >> when you do that, you're going back to the incremental approach that they disavowed in the beginning on health care, they always said they wanted to go the whole thing. the other thing, john and chris, in the end, the test here is, when the next big initiative comes up before congress, will obama get a bipartisan vote or not -- >> thank you, lynn sweet, john howard. "countdown" with keith olbermann starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? the breaking news that the underwear bomber is cooperating again with authorities? what he's spilling is current the u.s. is aggressively pursuing it in yemen. according to administration officials this isn't steal, it's proving to be valuable. he's talking even though we haven't hung him upside down in his cell, even though we read
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him his miranda rights, even though we didn't sell out our principles or constitution. sort of defends the main republican talking point on this, doesn't it? 2006, john mccain says, if the military men told him it was time to end don't ask don't tell, he'd listen. today -- >> it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. >> so they told him he told them they were wrong and they won't listen anyway. just lie about it. frank luntz writes a guidebook for defeating financial reform. just lie and say it means more bailouts for bail street. little jimmy o'keefe explains it all. >> we're not stopping. our goal is to expose truth and corruption until it's gone. and that's if. >> will that be before or after your trial. and beck again? da

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